Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ordering your own poetry retreat

It doesn't take much more than a lawn, a laptop, and some wi-fi. At least that's all it took for me this Memorial Day weekend to find myself on a luscious three-day (nearly) writing retreat of the kind I could have expected to pay hundreds of dollars for. Honestly, we like to call it "work" -- as in "my work has gone to a new level" -- as in "I had work in that issue" -- but it's really intense play for poets to write and read poetry.

Be honest. We don't do it for the money, even if we must publish or perish. Even if we just have to get another book out or be thought "played out." It's intensely playful, working at art. Artists don't just love to be poor, they do it because it's worth the price. Because to "work" at art is the best thing since you grew up and stopped getting to play games half the day.

So I took myself, my laptop, my dog, and a few snacks out to a lawn under a tree and lost all track of time as I painstakingly re-ordered my current manuscript, while tweaking a few poems here and there, and reading Kim Addonizio's Tell Me slowly, between bouts of work. It was one of the best holiday weekends I've ever had. I forgot all my problems, I spent no money, I was in my favorite place (a garden), and I had my cell phone in case I got lonely and wanted to reach out farther than this blog or Facebook.

Being self-employed, I don't get a lot of holidays. I do get time flexibility -- no, I'm not complaining, except about the difficulty of getting health insurance -- but being my own boss means I work for one mean bitch who is never satisfied. So giving myself three days off in a row felt very nice. Very healing. Very unusual.

Have to try this again very soon -- maybe on the Fourth!